It's August 1, 2008. I am two months away from being 30 years old. I have been married for 9 1/2 of those 29 years. I have lived in Phoenix for almost three years and while it doesn't seem like Phoenix has been a part of my life that long, it has brought with it the ownership of our first home and two children. That's to be considered pretty significant. And I've learned here, and grown, and made mistakes. That, too, is significant to me.
It's different learning and growing than the previous segment of my life- I had intense learning and growing experiences in Manhattan, both from graduate work and the challenges that learning and practicing social work in NYC brought as well as simply living there and having both the maturity and inexperience to have a few "figuring out who I am" periods. Those three years will always be very precious to me as they brought emotions and experiences to a greater level than I had previously felt. While my marriage strengthened deeply, I also felt hollowing loneliness. I had great confidence about where my studying was taking place and yet deep inadequacies about counseling people with which I had absolutely nothing in common. Most of all, I had incredible testimony-building experiences and learned for myself that my Heavenly Father knows me, that I am valued by him and the knows me, distinct from his other children.
Those years also brought a fire in us, a readiness to fight for the opportunity to be parents. An unacceptance of the instructions simply to wait, to be patient. We found an assertiveness and along side that, a peace about the fact there was a little spirit waiting to turn us from two to three. I cherish those IVF memories and what they led to.
Today Cooper is three, rounding the corner to four years old. He is tall and thin. He has blond hair, more so right now than normal due to his time in the summer sun. He has deep blue expressive eyes and small lips. He gets those from me. His nose is his feature most Navajo, though no one would guess he has that heritage running through him. He is strong and athletic. His coordination is coming in spurts and the occasional lack thereof reminds me that he's still a little boy. He has the same nervous habit I had as a child of touching and stroking the ends of his fingers when he's distracted or uncomfortable. He is reserved when first exposed to new experiences or people and then his exuberant energy creeps through him and explodes. It is very ironic and humorous to me when I hear him tell his sister than she is too loud. There are times when I really think I'm going to lose it because his volume is simply too much. Gratefully, his loudness is usually happy. Cooper has a little stubborn in him and experiments with testing the limits. He has taught me that consistency works best with him. There are times when he's eager to help. He prays daily to "bless us that we can be sweet and kind to our brother and sister." He can make Beckham laugh like no one else and is learning to appreciate the little shadow that Seneca has turned into. Cooper has become a great little swimmer this summer, conquering the paralyzing fear that used to have hold over him. It's fun to see him try to keep up with the big kids in the pool, and do a pretty good job. He enjoys reading and makes sure there are at least two stories that accompany his scripture reading each evening. He loves music and often plays "conductor," complete with a stand and baton, leading all the imaginary friends in song. There is so much I could say about this first child of mine. Right now I'm grateful that he's open to learning new things and that he loves to play.
Seneca Kate is 14 months old. She has beautiful tawny brown skin that is supple and smooth. Her shiny black hair is thick and very much a part of who she is. Senny has big dark eyes that squint up and sparkle when she laughs hard. Her nose is wide and flat and easy to kiss. She has lips that protrude when she's trying to figure something out and that spread wide to show the new teeth that keep emerging. Her jawline is squared, leaving great cheeks above that I love everyday. Seneca has curious hands that explore anything they can reach. Her fingernails are even and grow quickly. She can walk and while it appears her awkward movement will cause her to tip at anytime, she manages to keep her balance and is going faster each day. She has discovered that it's fun to run away from me when I call her, always laughing as she goes. She's a great eater and prefers to feed herself. She is very predictable when it comes to feeding time; her body is on a clock. She has a squawk that is loud and demanding and refuses to be ignored. Fortunately she only chooses to use it when she's very hungry or tired. She sleeps soundly and is still taking two naps a day and goes to bed early. She prefers to smile than frown and is so easy to please. She is a little smarty-pants and can often figure out how to get into things that were intended to keep her out. She has learned how to give squeezes and blow kisses and both are priceless to me.
Beckham is six months old, although his chub may be a little ahead of him. He is incredible squishy and lovable. He's getting longer quickly and isn't as chubby around his middle as he is in his face and legs. Bex has light brown hair that sometimes shows a little auburn tint. I don't know if it is as thick as when he was born. Beckham has his dad's high forehead that ends at the bottom with very happy eyes. His eyes are a green hazel and have light in them. They know how to smile all by themselves. He has a darling little round nose. His bottom lip automatically slips out as his forehead creases giving full warning that there is a little unhappiness occurring. His mouth also smiles hugely and often. He smiles with his mouth wide open revealing little pink gums inside and deepening the crease between the chin on his face and the one directly below. He has busy little hands that are always opening and closing and looking for something to grasp. His toes are squared and try really hard to stay within the confines of his chubby little feet. His ankles are currently buried in soft squishiness- I'm confident they'll reemerge in time. Beckham has always favored sleeping on his stomach and therefore has a strong neck and arms. He's recently begun pushing back onto his knees and rocking back and forth. He's a good little scooter and never stays in the same spot if on the floor. He kicks his legs in delight at his brother's silliness. He is incredible patient with his sister and her occasional whacks. The two of them have begun jabbering together in the backseat of the car and it is a most delightful sound. Beckham has just begun eating rice cereal, he's been perfectly content with formula. He's a good sleeper, taking three naps a day and sleeping soundly all night. He lets us know he's awake with happy cooing sounds as he plays with his feet in his bed. He's an easy-going little man and I love him to pieces.
Denten is 31 years old and has recently begun the second job of his legal career. It is a fantastic job. He is immersed in indian projects, currently doing a lot of gaming work with local tribes. It is work that is interesting and fulfilling. He's making great contacts and is having valuable interactions with local tribal leaders. Denten has progressively embraced his native culture more and more through the past nine years. He has a deep pride for his heritage, family and people. Denten is constantly looking for new adventures. He would be hunting or fishing most of his days if it would pay the bills. D is into photography and has provided us with more photos that I know what to do with. He is a very involved and concerned father, making most of the decisions regarding our children joint ones. Our kids know the sound of the garage door and know that means dad is home. They race at their various speeds to the back door to welcome him home every day. He enjoys swimming with them each evening, helping get them to bed and then finding his spot on the couch to settle in and watch something that has been DVR'd. He's currently a sucker for reality television. Denten drives Suby and is patient with her. She is a fantastic car, but dent has a dream and someday good 'ol Suby is going to go by the wayside in favor of a truck.
Today, as I capture this snapshot of who we are right now, it is incredible clear how abundantly blessed I am. I have had education and experiences some only dream of and the family that some ache to have. While money is stretched right now, we live a very comfortable life and see blessings all around us each day. And that's where we are.